Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Maybe you've heard about it. As Joe Biden said about this historic moment in the history of the world, "it's a big fuckin' deal."
Really, it is.
She's 33, but her life reads like an episode of "Teen Mom." If "Teen Mom" were a book.
My sister is unlike anybody else I know, and she's certainly desperately unlike anybody I would ever choose to deliberately associate with. She's the most self-centered person I know, and that's saying a lot, because I majored in theatre as an undergraduate and, consequently, I know a lot of people who are convinced with absolute certainty that their decision to get out of bed in the morning or drop a meadow-muffin is a potent, powerful and positive message to the rest of the world.
My sister is more self-absorbed than any theatre major ever could be. And I doubt very much that she would be offended at my saying that, because it would mean that she's first at something-- best at something, and even if being first and best at being selfish is her reward, she'd wear that bright red ribbon proudly.
When her son was born about half-a-year ago, she could not possibly understand why people like my parents were more interested in the baby than they were in her. She grew instantly jealous of the attention that her beautiful, sweet son received-- like a petty older sibling might. Dissatisfied though she may be with my parent's wandering attentions and affections, she's still content to bring her son to them at least twice a week (and often for overnight stays) to be babysat, as well as heavy bags of her laundry, along with her husband's and her son's for my mother to do.
Did I mention that she's turning 33 today?
My sister is beautiful, and always was, and maybe that's part of the problem. She's been able to pretty her way out of traffic tickets and punishments and bad grades, her big chocolate and volumes of cascading dark brown curls just melting troubles and consequences away like a fresh spring rain clears the world of a lingering heavy snowdrift. My mother used to call her "Brown-Eyed Curly-Top." Some of the things that she's called my mother in the heat of battle, well, even I'm too embarrassed to reprint here.
But, then again, maybe I'm just an aging mama's boy who's jealous of his badass older sister.
My sister is unlike anybody I know, and that's for sure. I struggle in my relationship with her, like lots of siblings do, I suppose. I go through periods where I judge her, and spite her, and ignore her, and attack her, and support her, too. I try, but it never lasts long. An unreasonable demand or a self-aggrandizing comment, a cutting remark or an obnoxious text will plunge me back where I don't want to be but all too often find myself-- that place where I sit and brood and wonder just who the fuck she thinks she is anyway.
"Why is my sister the way she is?" I asked my wife as we were just about to descend into a haze of sleep last night.
"Why is my brother the way he is?" she replied.
"Well," I said, burrowing deeper under the covers, "I know your mom just blames your dad for him, but I don't think that's fair entirely. And I don't think it would be fair to just blame my dad for my sister. There's always more to it than overindulgence..."
Our pre-bedtime conversations aren't always this lucid. Most of the time they're totally incoherent and sometimes slightly disturbing.
We didn't come to any conclusions last night, and the conversation was not picked up this morning, as we struggled to find some Passover-friendly alternative to cereal for breakfast and make sure Molly made it outside without peeing all over the green rug in the living room, but I'm still thinking about it, obviously. And still hurting over it-- all of it.
Most of all, over the fact that I sat down determined to write a happy birthday blog about my sister, and this is what came out.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Like most discussions that take place on this board, replete with enticing, hard-hitting topics like "Longest You've Gone Without Sex?", "How Ugly Are You?", "I Want to Discover More Girly Blogs!" and, my favorite, "Should Canada's Anthem Become Gender-Neutral?" I was definitely moved and intrigued by a discussion on the burgeoning phenomenon of "blog stalkers."
I have to go on the record at this point and admit that I'm not sure I understand the term. I mean, I know there are people out there who read my blog every day, and they make comments about the things that I write-- personal stuff!-- and some of these people even go so far as to "follow" me.
I mean, skeevy times, right?
Here's the thing: I thought that's what bloggers... wanted.
Maybe I'm wrong, but don't we obsessively self-promote, self-adulate, ardently seek the approval and consistent praise of total strangers? Don't we welcome them into our lives by opening ourselves up like a mid-March crocus? I mean... I thought that's what we did.
So I got to thinking, because no one on that particular discussion board was able to adequately elucidate exactly what a blog stalker was-- what is the difference between a blog follower and a blog stalker.
Well, I thought about this for a long time, and I came to the conclusion that there are a lot of similarities, and only a couple differences.
Blog followers & blog stalkers...
* read your blog obsessively
* comment frequently
* tell their friends, acquaintances, neighbors, comrades-in-arms, postal inspectors about your blog
* are almost always female
* have a vested interest in what you have to say
* can't squeeze out their morning loaf until they've read your blog at least three times
* more often than not read your blog at least semi-nude
* Blog followers give you positive attention, blog stalkers give you negative attention
* Blog followers may sometimes end their comments with "I love you." Blog stalkers may sometimes end their comments with "Mo' cut you."
If there are other things that set blog followers and blog stalkers apart, I couldn't figure out what those traits might be. Maybe I just haven't had enough experience with blog stalkers. I once had a bunch of people get mad at me for a negative review I wrote about the band, "Hoots & Hellmouth" but they forgot about me after the next time they got high.
I sometimes have followers of My Masonic Apron write me 20sb messages or g-mails about this or that, and they sometimes mention feeling guilty about coming off "stalkerish." And I have to pretty much laugh that off until one of them shows up on my doorstep wearing a masonic apron with my picture embroidered on it and bloody pig's head as a facemask. Because, really-- the internet and the blogosphere has very much blurred the line between fan, follower, friend, stalker and everything in between. These designations just aren't as clear-cut as they once were. My creative writing teacher hiding in J.D. Salinger's bushes wearing camouflage make-up and eating tinned tuna for three weeks? Stalker. I mean, come on-- that's easy.
Someone in Alberta checking your blog four times a day? Maybe they're just a fan with O.C.D. Who knows, right? And maybe I'm a reverse-stalker for checking my blog stats so much. Maybe I'm fucking stalking YOU! Well, folksies... what are you going to do? Bust out a cyber-restraining order against me? That I can't come within five thousand IP addresses from yours? Tell it to the judge, sweetheart.
Do me a favor, though, in the meantime: get me some more stalkers. Or followers. Or whatever. I could use the attention; positive or otherwise.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Anyway, we were discussing preparation for Passover in her parent's house.
"Oh, do they do that shit where you take all your bread and throw it in the river?" I asked.
There was a slight pause in the conversation.
"That's the wrong holiday, sweetheart," my wife pleasantly chimed in.
That about sums up pretty succinctly and accurately my relationship with Judaism. It's very... surface. It's often very... inaccurate. And it's kind of funny, because, more often than not, I feel like being Jewish is such a large part of my identity. It's certainly a large part of my nose.
But what is it about being Jewish is me? It's not the traditions-- the keeping of Shabbat. Kissing the mezzuzah prior to entering a Jewish home and/or leaving one. It's the Woody Allen stuff. The neuroses. The hypochrondria. The guilt. The wry humor. The... poor posture and glasses. The complaining. The incessant desire for self-analysis.
All Jews should have blogs. That way they wouldn't need therapists so much. Oh, shit-- does this mean I should be paying you $150/hr? Um... could you please bill my insurance?
Sometimes I feel like a jewpostor. I mean, I did my time in Hebrew School-- from age 8 to age 13. I have an Israeli father, and that's not easy. But, really, most of the time, I'm just a big faker. When we go to synagogue, which is very rare, my eyes glaze over the Hebrew and it might as well be Japanese. All the fucking prayers sound exactly the same, and if I read about ninety-year-old Joseph impregnating Sarah or Leah or whoever the fuck it was and the rabbi thinking she was drunk because she was praying silently and the burned goats and the burning bush and the seas parting and all of that one more time, well, I think I might puke up my gefilte fish all over everyone.
I mean, gefilte fish already looks like it's been puked up. Who would know the difference?
I feel like a jewpostor during Passover. My wife keeps Passover, and I do it, too, in solidarity with her, because I think marital solidarity is important. I mean, we can't do everything together. Like, when she's menstruating, I don't walk around with a heating pad on my groin, nor do I paint my penis red, but, in ways that we can have marital solidarity, I try to make that happen.
I think being unified with your spouse is a shitload more important than being unified with God because, really, if you piss Him off, what's going to happen to you? Probably nothing. Don't believe me? Try pissing God off and then pissing your spouse off and see which is more uncomfortable.
Passover is always difficult for me because I love eating, and Passover is an extremely restrictive time as concerns what you can put into your body. I'm a carboholic: cakes, breads, croissants, pastries, muffins, sandwiches-- I'm all about the yeast and the bread and the rising. So far, it hasn't all gone to my tits and my ass-- but I keep waiting for it to happen like my 10th grade health teacher warned us it would.
One of the many things I don't like about organized religion are rules about what you can and can't put into your body. Most of the Jewish rules about food I ignore with relish. Actually, I ignore them with shrimp and pork. I don't give a fuck what some inbred graybeards thought a thousand years ago about cloven hooved animals or bottom-feeders, and if someone wants to tell me that I'm not really Jewish because I like lobster tail, then they can go fuck themelves up against a brick wall. But, for Passover, for my wife, I play along.
It's a week? How bad can it be?
There's a little constipation from the matzah, sure, but it passes, if you'll forgive the pun. I don't mind. It is what it is. I just can't help but feel a little, well, guilty. Maybe that's just the constipation, though.
The one thing I do like about Passover are seders with my family. When my father lived in B'nei Brach, his seders started at sundown and would go until 2 or 3 in the morning, with everybody completely shitfaced, probably including the children. Since coming here in 1972, my father has been appropriately Americanized, and, like most Israelis who come to America, he's his own rabbi and his own God. He's realized that he doesn't need to do all that shit anymore, that, having fought in two wars to protect and defend Israel-- he's earned the right to, well, chill. Consequently, our seders are usually over in 15 minutes.
This bothers my wife, and I understand that. "Are we ever going to go to a real seder?" she asked me one day. I could have gotten insulted by that question, but how can I, an ardent jewpostor, have anything to say about that? Only, they are real seders-- conducted by one of the thousands of the motherland's saviors, one of its valiant warriors. One of Israel's hairy-chested, bombastic, good-natured, affectionate, passionate sons.
Whose favorite meal is shrimp stir-fry.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Like, for instance, I'm convinced that, whenever I'm with more than one person, and I leave the room, even to go to the bathroom, the other two people immediately start talking about me, and not in a good way, either. If the bathroom is in very close proximity to the two or more people who are left, then they exchange knowing looks about me, for fear that I will hear their negative commentary. If I was only with one other person and I then leave the room, that other person is thinking negative thoughts about me.
Well, actually, I guess they can do that while I'm still in the room, can't they...
Another thing that paranoid and anxiety-ridden wrecks often think about is going to prison. Now, I've never done anything that would facilitate or necessitate my getting shipped off to the ol' hoosegow, but it's still something, way deep in the back of my pock-marked, damaged brain, that I think about with probably inordinate frequency.
If a police car turns onto the roadway behind me, I'm positive I'm going to get pulled over-- whether I've been speeding or not. Whenever a police car is behind me, I immediately turn my radio/CD player off. Every single time. I'm just, you know, getting ready. When he passes me, the tunes come back on and the anal sphincter releases. Not all the way, of course.
I don't know why I think about going to prison. I mean, culturally, it's pretty far removed from my own particular world. I don't think anybody in my family tree for generations has been imprisoned. My father was "detained" at the airport in Israel for a day or two after his passport was ripped up and he cursed out two security officers in Hebrew. I don't know if that counts or not. He was very upset.
I'm pretty sure that all the porn I look at is legal but, I mean-- how can you be positively sure? You know? The sites that I go to seem pretty above-board-- there's always that disclaimer "All Models are Above 18 years of age. Legal records verifying age are available at blah blah blah in accordance with Act such and such..." and that makes me feel better, but still... sometimes the "models" as they call them have small boobies. And small boobies make Mr. Apron scared.
Of course, the only way to really be sure is to frequent elderporn fetish sites that have grammaws shitting on each other or stuffing midgets' heads up their asses. And that doesn't really get me going.
I guess my fear of prison is just rooted in the fear of "the worst." What's the worst thing that could happen? Well, I could die, or I could go to prison. Actually, if the latter happened, I'm sure the former would happen pretty soon thereafter. I wouldn't live through jail, unless I was sentenced to twenty minutes imprisonment, tops. I could probably do twenty minutes in even a maximum security con college. I think most relatively normal human beings could survive twenty minutes pretty much anywhere. Except for the electric chair. And a Taylor Swift concert.
People like me always think the worst possible thing in the world is going to happen to them, and that must make us really annoying to hang out with. I suppose that's why no one hangs out with me, besides my wife. She's not the kind of person who thinks the worst is always going to happen, which makes hanging out with her nice, but disconcerting. Like, when we leave the house late for a show, she never thinks there's going to be a massive auto crash on the highway that's going to totally make us late even later, or that all the parking spots in our favorite lot downtown will be taken, or that the theatre will be overtaken by Russian commandos. She's one of those people who's somehow got herself convinced that everything will work out.
I'm sure she's never thought about going to prison. I'd ask her right now, in fact, but she's napping on the couch. I doubt she's ever even dreamt of going to prison, and I'm almost sure she's not dreaming about it now.
I'll bet you thought this entire post was going to be about my fears about getting raped in prison, being as I am a featherweight, non-confrontational, bespectacled sort with a sweet mouth and attractive legs. But, truthfully, I don't think I'd even get raped in prison. Maybe that's a self-esteem issue.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Far more telling than a few gray hairs, or a few burgeoning nostril-hairs, or a few more crow's feet, or that twinge in my back or that crick in my neck-- I can feel aging approaching in a far more palpable, far less tangible manner.
I'm pining for days of yore.
I'm becoming one of those fuckers who says, "Well, in the old days..."
Pray for me, kids: this is the beginning of the end. I can practically feel the prickly scrape of Grape Nuts against my deteriorating gullet.
I've been thinking, though, as I warm my pre-arthritic knuckles and my pre-diabetic feet in the flickering, halcyon glow of days of yore, that formality is becoming a little less formal these days.
And I'm not talking about firm handshakes or calling your boss "Sir" (or *gasp* "Ma'am") or about standing when a woman enters the room-- that shit is long dead and decaying. I'm talking about what passes as "formal" these days in the sense of tarting oneself up for a night on the town in the lap of luxury.
Tastes change, no doubt, and I realize and I accept that. But, what happens when changes in taste become a complete lack of understanding of taste? Even people who possess taste now are simply unable to locate goods and services that charm their discerning palates. Unsure of where I'm going with this?
Maybe some subcategories and pictures will help illustrate my point.
THE FORMAL AUTOMOBILE
When it's time to tool around 5th Avenue on an uber-special occasion, what kind of car do you think of? You think of a limousine, of course. Long, luxurious, and swathed from carpet to headliner in sumptuous burled wood and leather-wrapped yumminess.
Well, "in the old days" this is what a limousine looked like:
This, children, is a 1933 Rolls Royce Silver Phantom II. It's probably somewhat unlike the limousine in which you got drunkenly fingerbanged on the way to the beach after your prom. That choice vehicle probably looked something like this:
Familiar? That this lousy hunk of shit passes for a limousine is a shocking and depressing statement about modern culture, and I don't care if that makes me sound like a man named Morton who wears his pants with the elastic waistband hiked up over his nipples.
I just don't care.
If you're still not convinced that limousines aren't what they once were from these two startingly disparate exterior photographs, let's open up those rear doors and take a look inside, shall we?
Here's the interior of an antique Rolls limousine:
I mean-- for real? Those are seats a Queen would feel proud to fart on. And she probably has. And, do you see those beautifully hand-crafted wooden things on the backs of the front seats? Those are picnic tables, friends.
Now, my wife likes to complain about the fact that she's never been inside a "real limo." Well, honey, if you're talking about a modern limo, you ain't missing much:
I mean, seriously-- this looks like a nightclub. And not a nice nightclub either. One in which people get high on coke and then get anally violated in the bathroom by the bouncer. And forget about the Queen farting on these seats. No way. Crackhead hoochies sit on these things without underwear on, for Christ's sake.
THE FORMAL MALE
Once upon a time, men cared about what they looked like in public. Getting gussied up in formalwear was a way to show your impeccable taste, to show off your elegantly-engraved man-jewelry (an 18-K gold pocketwatch, handed down from your great-grandfather on down perhaps-- draped lovingly from your waistcoat pocket). If you can believe it, there was a time when men concerned themselves with looking presentable to go out to dinner or the theatre.
Don't believe me?
We heart Sir Arthur Sullivan here at My Masonic Apron. Even though he was a corpulent little cuss, Sir Arthur could get hisself tarted up with the best of the Victorians. Check out the gold-capped walking stick, leather gloves, and silk top-hat with grosgrain ribbon, clutched deftly in his big-boned left hand. Christ-- check out the fucking monocle! I mean, seriously-- that's a class act. The rest of the ensemble speaks for itself. Elegant, refined, dignified and expertly hand-tailored.
Doesn't look like anybody you ever went to the opera with, does it? When I think of modern formalwear, I definitely start to break out into hives, and my ass starts to sweat prodigiously. Wanna know why? Of course you do:
See what I mean? This is not formalwear. This... this is a fashion tragedy. Congrats on the wedding, though, fellas.
THE FORMAL FEMALE
You feminists can say whatever you want about male oppression and the inhumanity and physically grotesque torture inflicted on a woman's bone-structure, lungs and stomach by the corset, but I don't think women ever looked hotter or better than they did in the Victorian and pre-Victorian era. Trim waists, billowing puffery and neverending trains, breasts on display as if we were at the open-air market, graceful, swanlike necks protruding gallantly from mounds of lace and frill and mountains of curls bedecking freshly-puffed faces.
Well, these days are long gone. But we'll always have Merchant-Ivory films and "Amadeus." These days, women who want to look their best for a special occasion are, well, left to the devices of Jessica McClintock and, well, whoever the fuck designed this all this shit:
Wait a minute-- did I just write a fashion blog?
Well, at least there were cars, too.
Friday, March 26, 2010
And they're such easy targets.
Welcome, bitches, to DEAR APRON!
I have a horrible secret. I have cheated on my husband with multiple strangers. I have tried to tell him I have an addiction, but he blows me off. When I first met him, I had been with two people. Since our wedding, I have lost count.
I think about sex constantly and often arrange to meet men anonymously many times during the week. I have tried to stop, but I just can't seem to. Believe me, I have tried.
I have attempted to talk to my husband about this so he will listen -- but I'm afraid to estimate how many times I have cheated because I fear he will leave me. Please help me. -- CAN'T STOP DOWN SOUTH
DEAR CAN'T STOP:
Well, honey, your horrible secret's safe with me.
The real problem here, hon-bun, isn't your monumental infidelities, seemingly carried out in every motel room, back alley, Chevy Citation, garbage dump, and Dunkin' Donuts restroom in western Alabama. The real problem here is the breakdown in communication with your husband.
I mean, clearly, you've tried to confess, and he just won't listen to you. Girlfriend, you are a woman and you deserve to be heard. I mean, you go, girl. If this man won't even condescend to take five minutes out of his busy schedule of college basketball brackets, drinking watery coffee and picking at his toenails to give you the time of day so that you can tell him how many dirty, pimply cocks you've wrapped your pussylips around, well, then maybe you need to find yourself a new husband to habitually cheat on. I mean, no wonder you have affairs: the man just doesn't listen to you. Clearly, it's all his fault.
Now, about all these affairs: do you have, like, a webcam or something?
I'm a 27-year-old woman who is a "klutz," which explains why I often have bruises on my legs and elbows. The other day, while lunching with friends I hadn't seen in a while, one of them brought up the subject of my bruises. (I had rolled up the sleeves of my blouse and was wearing a skirt.)
I laughed and explained how I got them -- running off an elevator before the door had opened all the way, tripping while climbing some stairs, and crashing into the coffee table and nearly breaking my leg. My friends exchanged knowing looks and told me if I ever needed anything -- ANYthing at all -- they were there for me and offered protection!
It became obvious that they think my fiance caused the bruises. I explained that I am often in a hurry and accident-prone. They didn't believe me. They just nodded and said, "Uh-huh ..."
I feel so humiliated. My fiance has never laid a finger on me. I have never had a healthier, more loving relationship, and it hurt that my friends think I'm a victim of domestic abuse.
A birthday get-together is coming soon and I don't feel comfortable going now. I'm worried they may tell others what they "think" may be going on behind closed doors. How do I set the record straight? -- JUST CLUMSY IN AMARILLO
DEAR JUST CLUMSY:
I've been dating "Amanda" for eight months and everything is going great. I've met her parents, and she has met mine.
Two days ago, I mentioned that we should plan a dinner with both sets of parents since they have not met yet. Amanda told me that our parents shouldn't meet until we move in together or are engaged. I felt offended. When do you think is the right time for our parents to meet? -- IT'S ONLY DINNER
DEAR ONLY DINNER:
Whenever Red Lobster is having a surf n' turf special for only $19.95 is the right time for both sets of parents to meet, of course. Nothing creates pre-connubial harmony like the smokey tenderness of a moist, medium-well steak combined with the luscious, buttery goodness of a soft, delicate lobster tail.
So, come on down to Red Lobster-- sure, everything's frozen and imported weekly from the South China Sea-- but we take great care in ensuring that every syringe and piece of chemical waste is thoroughly removed from our scallops, shrimp and crab before it is brought out to your table by some incompetent, goateed college drop-out whose face looks like the surface of the moon.
What better place could there be for soon-to-be in-laws to get to know each other than in one of our uncomfortable vinyl booths that resemble the backseat of a 30-year-old NYC Checker Marathon taxi? Nevermind that obese biker/Klansman breaking a King Crab leg over his son's head for waving to the underweight black bus-boy-- we'll do everything we can to make sure that the atmosphere is just right for you and Amanda as you bravely soldier your way through the ancient right-of-passage: the meeting of the parents.
Can Rick get you some more stuffed tilapia or cheesy bread?
I am a freelance writer who works from home. I have flexibility when it comes to my work hours, but I decide that on my own terms. I have lost count of the number of times friends and family have asked me to baby-sit, have lunch or go out shopping with them because, according to them, writing isn't "real work" and working from home means having no fixed hours.
Last week my husband called me from his office and asked me to bring him some documents he had forgotten at home. When I realized it wasn't urgent, I told him no and that he had interrupted my train of thought. He has been sulking for days. Was I wrong?
In this digital age, with more people working from home, it still means adhering to a schedule. Oh, and one more thing -- please remind your readers that writing is very much a REAL job. -- FREELANCE WRITER IN TENNESSEE
Oh, you're a "freelance writer" are you? Funny-- I looked for you in "The New Yorker" last month and didn't see your column. Wait-- was that your turkey meatloaf recipie in February 12th's edition of "The Weekly Tenneseeian"?
Listen, missy-- the next time your husband calls you from work to bring him papers, you better look sharp and hop to it, or, before you know it, he's going to be sleeping his way through Alabama or taking some cute young chippy out for some surf n' turf action.
Oh, and I guess writing is very much a REAL job. If you get paid for it. Thanks for rubbing it in, dear.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Anyway, my dry cleaner thinks I'm poor. She developed this judgement very quickly, as, I suppose, most of us do when judging others (which, of course, is naughty-naughty) and, not only did she come to this conclusion, she had absolutely no problem sharing it with me.
I don't go to the dry cleaner a lot-- you know, because I'm poor. I don't come from a big dry-clean-only family. We're pretty low maintenance. If a member of my immediate family is clothes shopping and s/he sees a very alluring garment, if the tag says "Dry-Clean Only" any member of my family would probably pass it up as "too much work."
When my mom would take little me out on errands (babies were portable back in the early 1980s) we would frequently go to the post office, the supermarket, the bank, Tommy's general store (seriously), and the pharmacy. We never went to the dry cleaners that I can remember. My mother diligently ironed my father's dress shirts back when he wore dress shirts, my sisters wore cotton "Esprit" tops and jeans, and I wore sweatsuits until eighth grade when I discovered masturbation and khakis.
The first person I ever met who went religiously to the dry cleaner was my first boss at the optical shop. He never wore a shirt that hadn't been dry cleaned, steamed, starched, and pressed. The back of his car always had at least five freshly-dry cleaned shirts hanging from the grab handle, all comfy-cozy in their shimmery plastic bag with their stapled paper tags. The dry cleaner was several doors down from our optical shop, and I would frequently be dispatched to pick up his shirts. I didn't mind. I knew my place on the totem pole, and I also knew he loved me-- so getting him coffee or a slice of pizza or his shirts was my way of loving him back. I always thought it was kind of ironic, though, that a man who was so obsessive about his dress shirts frequently came into work desperately hung over, eyes bloodshot, and sometimes asking me to smell his breath to see if it still reeked of gin and vomitus.
The only reason I go to the dry cleaner is when I'm in a big fucking jam. A few weeks ago, "The Sorcerer" was about to open. I played the title role, and the show was being performed in a very small, eighty-seat venue, where the audience can practically taste your sweat-- and so it's important to look good. I was to wear the clothes in which I got married: black and gray striped trousers, red suspenders (braces for you Brits), a white tuxedo shirt with widowmaker collar points, black tie, gray checked vest, black wool morning coat with tails and topped off with a for-real, beaver-fur black top-hat from a Canadian hatmaker, circa 1890.
Talk about a foppish dandy/nabob!
As opening night approached, I took a gander at the outfit as it hung in the closet. The collar of the tuxedo shirt was absolutely caked in tan stage makeup, from the last time I wore the get-up, two years ago in a production of "Ruddigore."
NB: If you ever want to be sure that you'll wear your wedding clothes again, do Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. This goes for males and females alike.
Shit, I thought looking at the disgusting shirt-- this motherfucker needs to go to the dry cleaner.
I went to a little dry cleaner that is very close to the post office where I pick up the P.O. box mail for work, and where I sometimes get coffee when I'm a.) too lazy to make it at home and/or b.) in the mood for coffee that doesn't taste like Lemon Joy. I had never been there before, but, since I'm in that neighborhood every day, I figured it was a good idea to take the shirt there so I could be sure I'd be close by to pick it up in time for the final dress rehearsal.
The squat, short, smiling, waddling Chinese lady walked up to me and she looked at the shirt.
"Oh, no! Wha happan?!"
(Sorry if my dialect writing offends anyone. If you have a problem with it-- tell Mark Twain.)
"Well, nothing really happened-- it's stage makeup. I'm... I'm an actor."
I really didn't feel like addressing the fact that I'm not actually an actor-- I'm a loser who works at a non-profit and does gay G&S operettas because, well, it's a fetish. I didn't think she'd understand. Or care. So I just told her I was an actor. This was a mistake.
"Oh! You an actor! No money, right?"
I stared at her.
"Actor, very poor. No money."
"Um," I started to sweat now. What was the proper response to that? "No, I have money. I mean-- not a lot-- I mean, I can pay."
"Sure, sure," she said. "But stain no come out. Is very bad stain."
"Just do the best you can," I said, "I don't really expect it to all come out-- I just need it to look better than it does."
"Better, okay, but no come out!" she warned ominously.
"Right. It won't come out. That's okay."
I came back two days later and picked up the shirt. She was right, the stain didn't come out, but it looked much better.
"I'll be back with more," I said.
"Oh, okay," she said, disbelieving. After all, how could I, a lowly actor, afford to get more clothes dry cleaned?
After the run of "The Sorcerer" had mercifully finished, I figured that it was time to get the entire outfit (sans the top hat and vest) dry cleaned to get it ready for the next operetta, because there's always a next one.
"Oh, the actor!" she said as I placed the morning coat, gray and black striped trousers and the shirt of ill repute on the counter.
"That's me!" I grinned.
She laughed. I wondered what the fuck was so funny. But I didn't ask.
When the clothes were ready, I returned. The bill had Chinese chicken-scratch all over it, numbers and prices scribbled out and re-written and it was crumpled.
"Your coat too long!" she cried, as if I were about to trip on it.
"What?" I asked, totally confused. I had brought a pair of my wife's wool pants and a sweater. She couldn't possibly think I was poor now.
She pointed to my morning coat.
"Coat has tails-- too long! My boss get very angry when I show him-- he say, 'This coat too long, need to be three dollar more! Not regular coat!' But I say 'No, he only an actor! He very poor-- no money.' And so my boss say, 'Ok, charge him regular this time.' So it's okay."
So, I was suitably embarrassed now, but at the same time rather pleased that the dry cleaner's assumption that I was an indigent stage-hack had now saved me three dollars off my dry cleaning bill.
"Thank you, that's very kind of your boss. You know, when you're just a poor actor, every little bit helps," I said. She nodded her head approvingly.
"In my country, actor very poor. No money. Live with parents."
"Yes," I said, "that's the way it is here, too."
"$13.25," she said, the total bill for dry cleaning my wedding/stage clothes.
I pulled out my debit card. She laughed.
"Oh no!" she pointed to a sign that said, "$20.00 minimum charge." I only had two dollars cash in my wallet, which played right into her assumption about me.
"I only have two dollars cash," I said.
"Oh! He no have money! Want to pay with card! No money!" She laughed hysterically at that, and I wanted both to join in and punch her in the throat at the same time. It's such a confusing world sometimes.
"Well," I said, "can I pre-pay for the sweater and the pants that I'm dropping off now, and pay for these clothes at the same time, that way it will be over $20.00 and I can use the card."
"Hahaha! You use card, is okay. Pay for everything now. No money!"
I paid for everything and picked up my freshly-cleaned morning suit. It was pouring outside.
"Lift up very high or long coat drag on ground!" she counseled, "you walk here, right?"
"Um, no, I have a car," I said, pointing outside to the P.T. Cruiser. She laughed at that, too.
Yesterday, I went to pick up my wife's sweater and wool trousers. I was just about to pull up in front of her store when a thought popped into my head that made me drive past the shop and park around the block.
I couldn't let her see the Volvo. That would totally turn her assumptions about the world upsidedown. An actor in a Volvo? Even an eight-year-old one-- that could not be.
She walked up to me, raising her eyebrows up and down in a suggestive manner, like a short, Asian, female Groucho Marx. She put my wife's pants and sweater on the counter and she said with a devilish smile,
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
At least, people think everybody wants to know.
I think most of you know me well enough to know by now that I don't give a sparrow's fart about what's on your Bucket List. You want to see the Taj Mahal before you expire? Great. Want to eat strawberries out your boo's asshole before you meet your maker? Um, you rock on with that. Want to skywrite, "Surrender, Captain Morgan" while doing loop-dee-loops in a biplane before you die, probably in the three-and-a-half seconds before you die? That's nice, dear. I support you. From a comfortable distance.
I've read a lot of 20somethings' Bucket Lists, and I have to tell you, they really span the spectrum from the predictable to the outlandish to the moderately touching to the formulaic.
"I want to buy an around-the-world plane ticket & travel for a year."
"I want to publish a novel."
"I want to have children."
"I want to pull off a heel-clicker on a dirt bike."
"I want to host a fabulous dinner party."
"I want to see a Broadway show."
"I want to send myself flowers."
"I want to bungee jump/skydive/parasail/extreme spelunk, etc..."
It's kind of a strange feeling, reading the Bucket Lists of 20somethings because, statistically, they have fuck all of a long time to pull all of this stuff off, and some of it isn't very hard to do. Like sending yourself flowers. I mean, if you can get over the embarrassment of calling FTD Florists and giving the same exact bill-to and send-to information, you've pretty much got that one nailed.
I wonder sometimes how many people actually achieve all or any or one of the items on their Bucket Lists. I guess, if you aim low your chances are better. I have a special place in my heart for underachievers and, if this blog is something you heartily enjoy, then you probably are one.
God, I love you, you hopeless slackass. Keep resisting the urge to get some work done.
It is with a modest degree of hesitation that I give you My Masonic Apron's Two Tears in a Bucket, Motherfuckit List:
Before I die of a premature heart attack brought on by chronic anxiety and poor coping skills, I want to:
* kick a Republican in the testicles-- preferably on live television, but I'll settle for a dark alley
* eat dinner at a very expensive, posh restaurant, and right before it's time to leave, staple the tablecloth, napkins, and the tip to the table
* defecate in my 2nd grade teacher's mailbox
* show up at my parent's house on my mother's birthday dressed as a clown
* see a professional production of "Hamlet" and, when Ophelia dies, stand up and scream, "Oh, SNAPS! No you di'int, bitches!"
* put Milli Vanilli in the stocks and publicly humiliate them as punishment for stealing away the innocence of the late 1980s and early 1990s
* drive my car into a house-- it's the only way an ordinary guy can get his ass on the news these days
* join the Army. And then immediately proposition the recruiting officer for oral sex
* enter a supermarket dressed as a police officer, go to the fresh seafood area, pull a lobster out of the tank, wrestle it to the ground and place it under arrest
* blog-- all the way to the end. And, you know what? I might just be fucking crazy enough to do it.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
(Love me. Pet me. Reassure me and, while you're at it, switch on the nightlight, too, please.)
The current plan is to go back on the street as an emergency medical technician, scoring a job at a first-rate ambulance company and enjoying the pleasures of a uniform allowance, twirling and flashing red lights, a stiff pay cut, and coming home to my wife smelling like a mixture of blood, urine and diesel fuel every day until my back gives out.
While that's the plan, it doesn't hurt to have a contingency plan. That's just what my parents advocated when I told them I was going to major in theatre in college. And look what happened.
After last night's passage of the historic health care bill, I think I've decided what my contingency plan is going to be. On the off-chance that I do not get hired at an ambulance company, I am going to apply for a position on one of these new-fangled "death panels" everybody's talking about.
While they haven't officially been formed yet, I know President Obama is hard at work on the creation of these panels, which will be critical to the success of his new healthcare initiative. After all, nothing says "healthcare" quite like "death panels."
I think I would truly be an ideal candidate to participate on a death panel. While I admit that I don't have any actual, practical experience in killing people, I certainly have enough scholarly knowledge about anatomy and physiology to complete the task expeditiously. I know all about the choice killing points in the human body: the carotid artery is a good one to slice & dice, as is the femoral. Of course, if you're not into gore, you can always smother grammaw with a pillow. Pillowcases are easy to wash and there's no insidious-looking "murder weapon" that you need to worry about hiding from the po-po.
There are other key points that make me a superior death panel candidate:
* I despise old people.
Let's face it: they smell and are relatively useless. Get one to start yammering on about the price of a loaf of mayonnaise in 1937 and you'll need to ram a loofah bar down his throat just to get him to shut the fuck up. I'm not some teary-eyed sentimentalist who would leap at the opportunity to sit at the gnarled, hammer-toed feet of some crinkly-assed cardboard-face and listen to her drone on and on about shingles or Sears & Roebuck or whatever the fuck old people talk about and pretend I'm getting pearls of wisdom dripping from the corners of Merlin's eyebrows. Man-- fuck that. Let's ice these creaky people.
* I can make the tough decisions.
Not that it's a tough decision to pull the plug on some wasted away, Chicklet-toothed, ventilator-hogging great-great-grammaw with one lung and a partially-deflated basketball for a head. Just like at the Colosseum: Thumbs DOWN, motherfuckers!
* I like the word "panel."
Discussion panel. Wood panel. Panel curtains. Panel saw. Solar panels. The National Mathematics Advisory Panel. The Walt Disney World Moms Advisory Panel (for real). Crossing the English Panel. Seriously-- I'm all about that word. I even like the sound of it. "Panel." It's not pronunced "Pain-ul." Because that would be too close to the word "Anal." And that's just wrong.
* I'm obsessed with death.
What better job could there be for someone who can't get enough fetid detritus, decomposition, and demise? I mean, besides being an on-scene accident investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board or a vulture.
I'm always talking about death in one respect or another, and I live in constant fear of my own death, contrary to my mother's instructions. I constantly go to doctors and have them inspect moles and cut them out and show them my penis because I'm convinced I have some life-altering social disease and I am always looking for sores inside my mouth because I know I have oral cancer because I smoked cigars when I was twenty and maybe being around actual as opposed to imaginary illness and death would be a good thing for me.
* I like to get dressed up.
I'm assuming that, being on something as serious-sounding as a Death Panel would require at least a shirt and tie, if not a sport coat or an outright suit-- at least on decision dates.
I certainly hope these panels get started up and that the White House starts disseminating application materials for interested applicants soon. I'm sure they will-- I know it's the Obama administration's ultimate desire to murder as many elderly and infirmed people as humanly possible. And he'll be great at it, too. If he hires me to help out, of course.
I can't wait to get started on my new career!
Sunday, March 21, 2010
I'm proud to say that I live in Pennsylvania because I want to. And I like it. And maybe that doesn't make me worldly or cosmo or totally disease-free, but it's a pretty big part of who I am. Thought you wouldn't immediately think so, Pennsylvania is a great place for a Gilbert & Sullivan freak to live. Did you know that there are 7 amateur G&S societies in the southeastern corridor of Pennsylvania alone? That's the highest concentration of G&Sery in any one sector of the United States of America.
Highest quotient of bowties, awkward hairlines, crooked teeth, and Aspergers, too. No statistics necessary.
Another thing that's really great about living in Pennsylvania are all the super-cool field-trips that you can take as an approaching thirty rejuvenile.
The Crayola Crayon Factory
The Nabisco Plant
The Martin Guitar Factory
The Pepsi Bottling Company
The Hershey Chocolate Factory
and, fasten those salty seatbelts, bitches:
The Herr's Potato Chip Factory.
Maybe three years ago, my wife and I went down to quaint-sounding but not really actually quaint Nottingham, Pennsylvania to take our tour of the Herr's Potato Chip Factory. It's a tour designed for children. We were forced to watch a seven minute film starring "Chippy" the annoyingly cute potato chip on speed who would be second on my list of animated icons to murder after the fucking Microsoft Word paperclip.
After the tour's conclusion, my wife and I were adament that the best part of the tour was consuming hot-off-the-line potato chips-- but, after I went to the restroom to steel myself for the hour-or-so drive back to places normal people with lots of teeth live, my wife proved me wrong. Upon exiting the bathroom, I saw her, wearing a devilish grin (and a cute pair of patent leather Danskos) and holding in her hand a small blue book. I squinted to make out the writing on the cover as I approached her.
"Chips of Wisdom," the red text on the cover read and, underneath the punriffic title was the "Herr's" logo.
"What the fuck is that?" I asked, with my traditional eloquence. This is why I blog a lot and don't talk so much.
"Oh," she smirked, "you'll see."
What it was turned out to be sufficiently entertaining to sustain us for the entire car ride home. My wife read aloud to me as I pounded the steering wheel, cracking the hell up, and she struggled not to pee herself as she schooled me in the chiplicious wisdom and, dare I say, pathos.
You see-- Jim Herr, the founder of Herr Foods, Inc. wasn't just a purveyor of sodium-drenched food products-- he was a man of vision, and a deeply spiritual man, too. And so, when Jim Herr needed guidance, he just opened up a bronze, crinkly bag of Herr's BBQ-flavored potato chips and sought to extrapolate and elucidate lessons from the Book of Proverbs. So helpful were the offerings contained therein, that Herr, ever the marketing man, was moved to make them readily accessible to a greater portion of the population by creating a 94-page, paperback booklet called
"CHIPS OF WISDOM, or LIVING PROVERBS (paraphrased)"
And let us say, "Amen."
I have to say that one of the first things that struck me about this little book was that, for a man so deeply religious as Herr-- he seems to know an awful lot about prostitutes.
"Spurn the careless kiss of a prostitute. Stay far from her. Look straight ahead; don't even turn your head to look."
"The lips of a prostitute are as sweet as honey, and smooth flattery is her stock in trade."
"Lest afterwards you groan in anguish and in shame, when syphilis consumes your body and you say, 'Oh, if only I had listened!'"
"Why should I beget children with women of the street?"
Good question. Now that sounds like the advice of an experienced John.
What's very helpful in "Chips of Wisdom" is a list on page 17 of "six things the Lord hates-- no, seven:
Eagerness to do wrong
A false witness
Sowing discord among brothers"
Actually, it's really nine things. They left off "Meredith Vieira" and "stretch pants."
There are the quaint little chiplettes, too, and one can't help but think that they somehow are insidious little marketing tools for Herr. Like, "Do you like honey? Don't eat too much of it, or it will make you sick!"
There's nothing in here, of course, about eating too many potato chips or cheese doodles.
I'm particular fond of some of the chips of widsom that have to do with parenting. My favorite of that particular set is probably, "A man who robs his parents and says, 'What's wrong with that?' is no better than a murderer."
I mean-- really?
Well, there goes my "at least he didn't kill them" defense.
Then again, maybe my favorite of the parenting/children set is, "A wise son makes his father happy, but a lad who hangs around with prostitutes disgraces him."
There you go again, Jim Herr. Jesus-- take a cold shower. And also, is the father disgraced if the son invites him to hang out with the pros?
There's also the very clever and timely, "Scolding and spanking a child helps him to learn. Left to himself, he brings shame to his mother." Especially if she's a prostitute.
Lastly on the parenting spectrum, this is not so much a chip of wisdom as a chip of warning:
"A man who mocks his father and despises his mother shall have his eye plucked out by ravens and eaten by vultures."
This is good to know. It's good I wear glasses.
If you're ever in southeastern Pennsylvania-- forget about visiting the Liberty Bell, or me for that matter-- get your asses inside your rented Chevy Malibu and head on down to Nottingham, PA. Come for the tour, stay for the chips of wisdom.
Because, remember, "The man who strays away from common sense will end up dead!"
Pass the chips.
I bought a car yesterday.
Not only did I buy a car, I bought a Volvo.
Not only did I buy a Volvo, I bought a Volvo from a salesman named "Zen."
The vehicular shenanigans began quite innocently enough with a Friday morning coffee and breakfast meeting with my father at Saxby's ("Sexyboys"). I was bemoaning my current state of automotive troubles and travails.
"Mummy-- I am getting rid of Mommy's car tomorrow at the Volvo place-- you will come with me. They are having a huge one-day sale-- blowout. Just see what they have."
I got very annoyed with him.
"What's wrong with you?" I asked-- rhetorically, of course-- he's convinced there's nothing wrong with him. "I can't afford a fucking Volvo. Maybe one that's twenty years old and that's been hit by a deer."
"Mummy, please," he said. "Humor me."
Well, I've never been one to turn down an opportunity to humor my father. So, yesterday morning, I began searching for the title to the P.T. Cruiser. Now, if I were searching for random shards of fabric emblazoned with cupcake print, or notes referring to a meeting I attended four months ago, or a CD I haven't listened to in seven years, I would have experienced no difficulty whatsoever. Because, however, I was searching for an important legal document, it was essentially a task of insurmountable difficulty. I turned this cuntsucker house upsidethefuckdown. Even my wife, who had fought me tooth and nail on whether or not to get rid of the Cruiser (she was the "Not" side) joined in the search.
"We suck," I said, dejected, looking at the piles and piles of shit in the basement.
"I'm sorry we're such slobs," she said, her eyes glazing over the mountains of fabric in the office/sewing/blogging headquarters.
Finally, a thunderclap or a mini-stroke hit me. A while ago, I had tried to outsmart us by actually placing important documents into the very front of the first file cabinet drawer, you know-- like a normal person might do. I even shocked myself as I pulled out the long ago forgotten about blue folder, containing our marriage certificate, and, yup, the title to the Cruiser. Armed with that document and a blank check, I set out on my little adventure.
"Do you want to be called before a deal is done?" I asked my wife over breakfast.
She thought about that for a minute.
See, on Friday night, my wife and I threw our swords down in the sand and we did what lots of normal couples do when emotions run high: we had a fight. It was a fight about cars, and about rationales, and about equity, and about sentimentality, and about history, and about, well, everything. You know how fights get-- it starts about one thing and then, if you're not careful, it escalates and it gets, well, metastatic.
Finally, after the yelling had subsided, it was agreed that I would go to the Volvo dealership and see what they were willing to give us for the Cruiser, and what they had on the lot that we could afford. Which wasn't much.
Yesterday, Zen showed me a 2002 Volvo S-40, the smallest Volvo of that vintage. Metallic Bamboo Green. 60,800 miles. He told me the "bottom-line sale price."
"That doesn't impress me at all," I said, pulling out my phone and showing him the Kelley Blue Book retail value for a 2002 S-40 with that mileage. When he said they would give me $2,200 for the P.T. Cruiser, I said, "Well, I guess there isn't anything to talk to you about."
45 minutes later, they gave me $3,500 for the Cruiser, and dropped the price of the Volvo by $600. And I signed and gave them a check for the difference. And now I have a tight, reliable, well-made car. A car to drive until the goddamn wheels fall off.
I feel a little strange about owning a "luxury car." I mean, it's an eight-year-old, small luxury car. But it's swathed in sumptuous cow-ass, there's fake wood everywhere-- it has enough airbags to cushion both my balls in the event of an accident-- there are ass-warmers and stability control and, well, I'm not really an ass-warmer kind of guy.
But I guess I am now. Because, as a wise woman once said, "You are what you own."
If you had told me two days ago that I would be a Volvo owner today, I would have told you to go suck a Swedish dick. But life's funny, and what was unbelievable on Thursday is a reality on Saturday. But, though a couple thousand dollars poorer than we were on Thursday, we're pretty much where we were before-- with only one car payment and with a somewhat aged 2nd car. But a damn good one. With a turbo.
"That's definitely a married man's car," my mother said, looking at it fondly. She really loves it. I've never had a car that my mother's liked before-- and I've had, um, a lot of cars. I suppose I'm really growing up, now that I have a car my mother approves of. Hell, she even loves my wife-- which is a lot more than I can say for my unfortunate exes.
I don't know if it's a married man's car or not, and I don't really care. I do like it, though. And I think I'm going to name it "Bjorn" with the diagonal slash through the "o."
Thanks, Mrs. Apron.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
"A blog where those who are lost come to be found, not necessarily found out. A blog where you can be silly, and expect the same in return. An occasionally serious place, a constantly changing place. It's your Happy Place, and mine. So, let's put on our aprons and let's get busy."
Well, something's going on in California and it warrants a little bit of occasional seriousness. If this isn't your scene today, come back tomorrow, when I'll probably be posting some wry commentary about politicians' sexy daughters or lambasting people who post videos of their hamsters parading around on YouTube wearing Barbie doll-sized underpants.
Somebody is out for blood in Riverside County, California. They're out for blue blood. And when I say "blue blood," I'm not talking about the wealthy, elite blood of the cognac-sipping, incestuous, clenched-jaw WASP variety. I'm talking about the blood of cops.
Some maniac, or some maniacs, is/are setting boobytraps in the hopes of killing a police officer-- or lots of police officers. The first attack was an attempt to turn the Gang Enforcement Unit's headquarters into a concentration camp death chamber. A hole was drilled into the ceiling and a natural gas pipe was inserted with the gas on. Fortunately, officers smelled the stink and the building was evacuated.
A little while later, when an officer opened the steel gate to enter headquarters, a contraption that had been rigged and set went off, and a bullet was fired, missing his head by only eight inches. The only reason he wasn't killed was because the gate was tricky to open, and he had his body turned a bit to one side.
Another officer was targeted. While stopping at a convenience store, someone attached a bomb to his patrol car.
Understandably, officers are on-edge. They're checking their rearview mirrors while driving home from their shifts to make sure they're not being followed. They're extra cautious when approaching civilians, or when they're being approached. The mood has been described as "tense." And tense people who are constantly justified in feeling that they are threatened, tense people with guns is not a good thing. Whomever is doing this is creating an atmosphere that could get innocent civilians killed, simply because the police don't know who is behind these assassination attempts (and that's exactly what these are-- assassination attempts) and they are seriously ramped up.
I hate throwing the "T" word around, but it essentially is terrorism. Any time someone is attempting to manipulate the psyche of another person through violence or threat or fear of violence: that's terrorism.
Ironically, what bothered me most about this particular story isn't that someone's out there trying to kill cops. Someone, somewhere, is always going to be trying to do that. And there are lots of reasons people strike out against police officers-- hatred and mistrust of authority, they're caught with their back against the wall, they refuse to go back to jail, they're on drugs or insane... whatever the reason, as long as there are cops there will be cop-killers.
What bothered me most about this story was a comment made by Attorney General Jerry Brown.
"It is incredible and I think unprecedented that police officers in the line of duty could be subjected to these kind of terrorist attempts on their lives."
Think again, sir.
I don't know about you, but, when I was taught about the Civil Rights Movement in high school, it was covered in a day, maybe a day-and-a-half. We learned about Selma, Martin Luther King, the Montgomery Bus Boycott and that was pretty much it. Nobody mentioned the Black Panthers, and they certainly didn't mention the Black Liberation Army, which was a violent off-shoot of the Black Panthers. Beginning in 1970, the BLA participated in numerous attacks, assassination attempts and successful assassinations of police officers all across the country. This is nothing unprecedented. This is nothing new.
* October 22, 1970: As thousands of police officers congregated inside a church for the funeral for slain San Francisco Police Officer Harold Hamilton, a bomb inside the church, planted by the BLA, exploded. Nobody was seriously injured.
* May 19, 1971: NYPD Patrolmen Thomas Curry and Nicholas Binetti tried to stop a vehicle that had been deliberately traveling the wrong way down a one-way street past their police car. When the patrol car pulled up alongside the suspect vehicle, the officers were fired upon by a machine gun. Both officers were hit multiple times and their patrol car careened into a statue. Curry and Binetti were disabled for life.
* May 21, 1971: NYPD Patrolmen Waverly Jones, black, and his partner, Joseph Piagentini, white, had just finished answering a call for help at the Colonial Park Apartments in Harlem. It was a little after 10:00pm. They were shot to death from behind as they walked together back to their patrol car. Jones, 33, was killed instantly. Piagentini was mercilessly shot 13 times in the back, with the assailants' guns, and with his partner's gun. He died in the backseat of a patrol car that tried to get him to Harlem Hospital.
* August 29, 1971: San Francisco Police Sergeant John V. Young is shotgunned to death while sitting in his police station by members of the BLA.
* January 27, 1972: NYPD Patrolmen Gregory Foster, black, and his partner, Rocco Laurie, white, were walking their beat along Avenue B when they were murdered in the exact same way as Jones and Piagentini had been-- shot repeatedly in the back. They were turned over and an eyewitness heard one assailant yelling, "Shoot them in the balls!" Laurie, 22, was shot in the groin. Gregory Foster, 23, had both of his eyes shot out.
Had enough yet? Closer to my home, more nutjubs were hard at work. A group that called themselves "The Revolutionaries" got into the act, too. On August 29, 1970, Fairmount Park Police Department Sergeant Frank Von Colln was sitting at his desk talking on the phone when gunmen walked into his small stationhouse and shot him five times, killing him. Von Colln's revolver was inside his desk drawer. Two other Philly officers were shot and wounded that same day.
It goes on and on and on.
If you think it is just a sepia-hued memory of faded headlines, you're wrong. In Seattle, a police officer was gunned down and brutally killed while just sitting in his car. In Alaska, another officer was writing a report in his patrol car when a vehicle pulled up alongside him and the Anchorage officer was shot five times. Unprecedented? Please.
And I find it distressing, irritating, and shameful that people involved in the law and in law enforcement in 2010 have no concept of the history of violent attacks on police officers carried out by bigots, maniacs, and other so-called "revolutionaries" who think the only way to send a message or institute a change is by shooting someone in the back or blowing them up. In America, we don't have very long histories, and as such we have no excuse for not knowing our history.
Here's a little tip, Mr. Attorney General: nothing is unprecedented. It's all been done before.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Welcome back to another edition of "Dear Apron" where we school the dumbshits who whine about their hopeless lives to "Dear Abby." Maybe one day this will become a real advice column.
But probably not.
After all, it's not cloying, and it's not sychophantic, and it's certainly not helpful.
I am newly single after a 30-year marriage. Would you please explain to me the protocol regarding intimacy? After how many dates is it appropriate to engage in intimacy? And afterward, should the man call the woman or the woman call the man? How long should one wait before calling? I'm afraid if I call too soon I'll appear needy, and if I wait too long to call I'll appear to be a player. -- TENTATIVE TOM IN TAMPA
DEAR TENTATIVE TOM:
Newly single after a 30-year marriage? Wait a minute-- your real name wouldn't happen to be John Edwards, would it?
Seriously, though, Mr. Edwards, I'm glad you asked. There's a lot of old men running around with prescriptions for Cialis who have dumped their sag-ass wives in favor of the perceived excitement of the dating scene and hidden sorority lavatory cameras. I applaud you for getting back out into the dating world with your eyes open and your pants down. Here's what you need to know:
The "protocol regarding intimacy" hasn't changed much since you were a lad. Men are still perceived as being completely inept when it comes to cunnilingus. It's been proven by Oprah and some woman doctor somewhere that 87% of men can't even spell it. Breasts are still awesome and there is no such thing as a "female orgasm" so don't even waste your time.
What has probably changed since you last were dating are rules about domestic violence. Punching your S.O. (we're calling them S.O.'s now) in the face repeatedly while in bed no longer constitutes rough sex, unless you are in a garage rock band or are at least a B-List celebrity.
Also, women are more prone to heart disease than they were thirty years ago, and their symptoms differ from the "classic heart attack symptoms" so, while engaging in intimacy, be sure to constantly ask your S.O. if she is experiencing back pain, a shoulder ache, nausea, or jaw pain. Obviously, if you're punching her in the jaw at the time, you don't need to ask about that last one.
People are always on about how many dates can you go on before engaging in "intimacy." Senator, define "intimacy." I mean, for me, intimacy is snuggling on the couch with my wife, having a cup of Irish Breakfast while watching Tim Gunn rip some limp-wristed, incompetent designer a new one with a combination of wry humor and passive-aggressive commentary. For you, I can tell that it's obviously donkey-punching some poor broad while jazzing all over her skylight. And that's just what it is.
If you're banging the sort of chick I think you're banging, then 1/2-a-date, and you should be good to go.
Now, your question about calling your S.O. after intimacy is a good one. Thirty years ago, there were these things called "payphones." They don't really exist anymore, so, if you're trying to call your woman, you're going to have to use something called a "cellular telephone." They're awfully funny looking, and they don't have cords or round rotary looking things that get all grimey with fingerpoo. And, on some of them, you can type short little words with lots of consonants on them and zip them out into the clouds-- like, "thnx 4 the bj. i = hiv+ l8tr"
DEAR APRON: I recently experienced an awkward situation. I reconnected with an old friend I hadn't seen in about four years. The last time I saw her she was pregnant. I asked about her baby, and she informed me that he had died a few months after his birth.
She clearly found the memory sad, but at the same time had moved on. I didn't want to force her to re-experience the event by asking her what happened, but it seemed rude to abruptly change the subject to some minor matter after such sobering news.
What is the polite thing to say when someone tells you about a tragedy, but long after it happened? -- WORDS FAIL ME, PEKIN, ILL.
Oh, MAN! That is SO FUCKING AWKWARD! That's like, "Oh, how's your husband doing?" and she's all like, "He's gay-- left me for a dentist last June." And you're like, "Oh, MAN! That is SO FUCKING AWKWARD!"
Damn. So awkward.
So, to answer your question: "What is the polite thing to say when someone tells you about a tragedy, but long after it happened?" I guess I can offer you a few ideas. You roll with whichever seems to make you the most comfortable. Practice them in front of the mirror, or the former mother of a dead baby:
* "Oh, MAN! That is SO FUCKING AWKWARD!"
* "Whoa. Sucks. Wanna see some pictures of my kid? She's in Pre-K!"
* "Oh my God-- you killed her!"
* "Well, at least I didn't have to find out about it on Facebook."
* "Why wasn't I invited to the funeral? God, Jeannie, you are such a bitch."
* "Are you sure she wasn't just sleeping?"
* "Hey, we all have problems. I mean, I had this pebble in my shoe all day last week, it was so annoying."
* "Cool. Wanna go to Starbucks?"
When I was married I had an affair with a married man. We had a child together, and I divorced my husband. When the affair ended, child support was never mentioned, and for the last nine years I have raised my daughter by myself.
I am recently married to a wonderful man who takes care of both of us very well. My daughter has never asked anything about her father, but I know down the road she'll want to know what happened. I don't know when I should talk to her about this, and if I should take any legal steps to claim child support. Part of me feels that I should go for it; part of me is saying I should just let it go. Your thoughts, please? -- AMBIVALENT IN PLANO, TEXAS
My thoughts, please? Well, thank you for asking so politely. You must have been raised very well. Not well enough to know that marital infidelity is morally reprehensible, but well enough to at least feign appropriate behavior.
Here are my thoughts. Please.
You are a whore. You don't deserve child support, or your child, and you certainly don't deserve to be married to your "wonderful man who takes care of both of you very well."
By the way-- when are you planning on cheating on him? Try to fit it into your schedule at some point. I can't wait for your next money-grubbing, cumstained letter.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Probably a felon, though I'm not quite sure what the legal gravity of my transgression amounts to in the eyes of the law-- but I am definitely guilty of a violation of law.
See-- I haven't updated my Facebook status since March 2nd. And, sooner or later, The Man is going to be kicking in my front door and will take me away from my wife and my dog and my new puppy.
And all of you. Because, surely, you can't blog from prison.
Actually, you probably can.
So, yeah-- you're reading the words of an admitted criminal miscreant-- a dastardly ne'er-do-well who blatantly behaves in a manner counter to accepted and established societal norms.
Like all criminals, I have my reasons. Sorry-- my excuses. See, my computer exploded last week under the weight of a virus so powerful it totally overrode our OS and we had to get a completely new computer (it's an HP Slimline-- cute! Not as cute as MAC or an ambiguously ethnic celebrity child, but it's cute) and so that kind of fucked up my Facebook updating schedule.
It also threatened to fuck up my blogging schedule, but, because I love you, between my work computer and my smartphone, I found a way to make it work. Don't you feel loved?
I have lots of other excuses for my Facebook delinquency. Um, let's see-- my dad didn't pay enough attention to me from March, 1989-February, 1992. My physically stronger older sister left me feeling emasculated and ineffective as a male. My room wasn't big enough growing up. I watched too much "Rescue 911" as a child. My parents didn't let me have a dog. A once saw a clown taking a piss in a public restroom. My grandfather let me fall off the sliding board and I hurt my back. My mom cut her hair short when I was eight and then she got a full-time job.
What? Parenting me wasn't intellectually stimulating enough for her?
In any event, I would like to issue a public apology for my evident laxity in updating my Facebook status. Truly, I'm sorry. And, as someone who has a smartphone that is capable of issuing mobile status updates, I really do have no excuse.
Well, except for the ones stated above. But they are not even really sufficient to answer for my crime, and I understand that, and I accept whatever repercussions may be forthcoming.
One thing, though-- I'm a little bummed about the fact that nobody's emailed me to, you know, make sure I'm not dead. According to Facebook, which is the main source of truth for people in my age bracket, second only to the consistently unerring Wikipedia, I have 284 "friends."
Why haven't any of them checked my cyber-pulse? I mean, if you're under thirty and you're absent from Facebook for more than two weeks, that almost certainly means death. Even comatose people my age laid up and smacked down in ICU beds can usually find some way to communicate a status update to a critical care nurse through a series of mouth-twitches and eye rolls.
Makes me think-- maybe these people aren't really my friends after all....
But, if they're not.... then that means that.... you must be.
And you know I'm alive, because I update this shit far more than my Facebook page.
And, if that's true, (and, clearly it is), is My Masonic Apron becoming the new Facebook?
And, if that's true, (and it's not, but humor me for a second), could I become the new Mark Zuckerberg? And live in a palatial California mansion with blowjobs every time I turn around and five-ply toilet paper to gently caress my anus?
I like blowjobs. And soft things on my anus.
That said, I don't think I'm going to update my Facebook status again for a very long time.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I think a lot of people who read the newspaper do so mainly so they can feel superior to those who don't. (Isn't that an obnoxious thing to say? If you want more, raid the archives.)
Of course, nobody feels more superior than the people who still read the newspaper in print. But we know what they're up to. They're the kind of people who refuse to get cable and microwaves, just so they can stand on ceremony and talk about what purists they are and how they delight in and concurrently suffer for their insistence on eschewing technology.
People like, oh, my parents.
Some people read the newspaper to find out who got shot or stabbed or raped or arsoned overnight. If you're not a nightowl, you know that a lot happens in the smaller and larger world after you've rubbed Noxzema onto your hands and/or onto your lover's erect penis and gone to bed. Waking up and checking out the newspaper is like finding a veritable gold mine of stray bullets, sirens, semen, and aggravated battery.
Other people read the newspaper to see what that bald-ass motherfucker, Ziggy, is up to, and to see if he's been hired by Ikea to star in a new series of their Ektorp instruction manuals with the strange-looking potato people.
I read the newspaper. Kind of. Over the course of the last year, I consult http://www.philly.com/ and http://www.nytimes.com/ mostly to see if there is appropriate blog fodder, but I'm also semi-interested in who got gang-banged and bang-ganged overnight. In Philadelphia, lots of people do, so it's good to try to keep track if you can. It's not easy.
Sometimes, though, I'll check out a feature article or two if a title piques my interest. That is, after all, what titles are supposed to do, as I learned in 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th grades, and again in Journalism 210: "Media for the Chromosomally-Challenged" intro class in college. You never know what you're going to find. A local high school's scabby, bespectacled tech gurus are secretly webcam photographing young, lithe students doing homework on their laptops in their tank-tops and underoos... two rabid raccoons are on the loose causing havoc with ritzy resident's toy poodles and pomeranians... some crazy white woman is recruiting for the Taliban...
Oh, and friendly, resourceful, creative plastic surgeons in my neighborhood are helping out women with deep pocketbooks by giving them "designer vaginas."
That's right, Pussy. You heard me. Designer vaginas.
Here's how it started...
Like all things that are now absurd, ridiculous and ethically dubious, this particular practice started out innocuously enough as a way to assist women with actual medical problems, like a vagina that looked like it had been put through a wheat thresher due to the passing of obese triplets or a panther child. Women with certain urinary tract conditions have been helped by physicians who have reconstructed various components of both the interior and exterior urogenital system.
And that's very nice.
But, just like facial plastic surgery, which was originally intended for burn victims and car crash survivors and people who stood too close to turbo-prop plane propellers, the practice of vagectomies (my word-- patent-pending) has gone, well, awry.
Enter: financial crisis.
Now, if you're a wealthy individual, and you've been advised by your Wealth Management Consultant that you need to tighten your purse-strings, what's the first thing you're going to cut, after downsizing from a Maserati to a Maybach, donating a small selection of your mink stole collection to science, and selling off your least attractive female child to a hairy-chested guy named Manolo?
You're going to give your plastic surgery budget a little nip and tuck.
After all, you've probably had your ass lifted and your cheekbones cracked and your eyelids stapled and your tits re-woodblocked-- so, really, there couldn't be that much left to do besides sandpapering and varnishing your forehead.
Enter: the vagina.
"Because of the recession, most cosmetic surgeons are doing far less [business] than they have in previous years, but I'm busier than ever," said one area plastic surgeon who partially credits vaginoplasties and labiaplasties with his practice's success. "Women want to look good all over and feel better, too."
Well, doc, they sure do, don't they?
Now, if you want the "perfect vagina" you can get one that's totally made-to-measure. Your dumb-ass, lumbering ox of a lover can't find your G-Spot? Apparently, some plastic surgeons can give you a "G-Shot" which is exactly what you're hoping it isn't: a shot of collagen to surgically enlarge your G-Spot. Maybe they can even coat it in neon reflective paint to make it easier to see in the dark, too.
If that image isn't disturbing enough, what pops into your cooch when you think of the word "hymenoplasty?"
That's right: they can make you a brand new hymen, so no one will ever have to know. Think of the possibilities! It's positively clit-boggling.
Critics say that these practices are tantamount to genital mutilation but, surprisingly, the plastic surgeons don't seem to phased by the critique. It must be all that money they're making from desperate housewives who want their "vaginal area to feel like a teenager, really. It's like back to its original state," one local hausfrau said.
Really? Back to its original state? That sounds a far lot younger than "teenager" to me, and that makes me positively ill. Your husband must be a very sick individual if he thinks your vagina going back to its "original state" is a good thing.
Life's funny, you know? I went to the vet yesterday to have our new puppy, Molly, all checked out. The vet was all but awestruck as he entered the room, spending a moment or two just to gaze at her.
"You know," he said, "she's just beautiful. I'll bet her genetic make-up would be very interesting."
I smiled and rolled my eyes at the same time, to indicate how I felt about pursuing that particular avenue of financial ruin.
"Well," he said, "if you ever run into a large sum of money that's just burning a hole in your pocket, and you can't think of absolutely anything else reasonable or prudent to spend it on, maybe you'll spring for it-- just for the heck of it."
I nodded my head and stroked Molly's head.
Or maybe I'll just get cockectomy to make the tip of my penis resemble the head of a bald eagle.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
This happens, I suspect, to people who watch TV shows On Demand, which we started doing about a couple months ago. Sometimes, one of us will look at the other and say,
If we're in a sillier mood, we'll catch up on "30 Rock" or "Sponge Bob" but, largely, it's the dramatic programming in which we tend to engage in "On Demand" world. On certain On Demand shows, (my wife is a big fan of the loud, profane, and delectable antics that ensue on "Cake Boss") they have paid endorsements by Disney that run instead of random, slot-machine-style commercials. There's a series of ads for Disneyland that feature the Muppets palling around, as they often do, with flesh-and-bone celebrities, or at least the modern interpretation of what a celebrity is.
No offense, big breasted hot chick in construction hat.
Because I am so frequently subjected to these Muppet ads (I know I can fast forward On Demand, but how do you fast forward Beaker or Gonzo and the fucking chicken lover? Maybe you can-- you're obviously made of harder stuff than I.) I think about the Muppets a lot.
And it can't be a picnic being a Muppet.
I know, I know, it isn't easy being green-- but that's just being selfish, Kermit. It isn't easy being brown or blue and it certainly can't be easy being Statler and Waldorf. I mean, I try to be critical, loud, obnoxious, and witty all the time, and every now and then it just falls flat.
Plus, being funny is hard enough without doing it while a hand is shoved up your ass. And, not for nothing, for the largest Muppets, sometimes an entire half-a-person is wedged all up in that shit.
I mean, what?!
I don't think people necessarily appreciate how multi-talented the Muppets are, either. In the Victorian music hall era, a performer wasn't a true performer unless s/he could act, sing, AND dance. They were conversant if not fluent in at least English and French, and those doing for-real opera learned Italian and German, which is no joke! Now, I don't know how many Muppets are multi-lingual, but they're pretty much ALL triple-threats when it comes to singing, acting, and dancing. I mean, shit, most of them play instruments, too-- it's not just Rolf pounding those horse-teeth or Kermit doing forward-rolls on that banjo.
This is a seriously talented group, and I think sometimes the viewing public takes that multi-faceted talent-spring for granted as we guzzle from it greedily.
The other incredible thing about Muppets is that, for all their constant engagement with real-life celebrities, they're never starstruck. You'll never see a Muppet drooling all over Taylor Swift's tank-top, hounding her for an autograph or a skin-sample. They're just not like that. They're down-to-earth. I mean, sure, they got a little excited about meeting Peter Sellers and Richard Simmons but, really, who wouldn't?
And I've never seen such an enclave who is so comfortable in their nudity. I mean, sure, Fozzie wears a hat and a tie but, aside from that, it's basically bareass-- and that sumbitch isn't exactly shapely, unless you consider a pregnant flour-sack shapely. It's like a goddamn nudist colony over there, and we all know Bunson's labcoat is for business hours only...
I wish more people I knew were Muppets. I wish my boss was a Muppet. I wish certain members of my family were Muppets. I think they'd be easier to tolerate, more huggable, more fun, more... fluffy. And more naked. That said, I wish more girls I knew in high school who played field hockey were Muppets.
Sometimes I wish I was a goddamn Muppet. I'd still wear a tie all the time, but I probably wouldn't bother so much with the pants. It's possible that being a Muppet would make me much more desirable in audition situations, because, while I can definitely act and I can passably sing, my dancing is rather appalling and leads certain choreographers to think I'm mentally challenged. I'll bet, if I were a Muppet, I'd be a better dancer. I'd be a funny looking Muppet, that's for sure, but, then again, I think most of us would. That blonde chick in Animal's band is certainly funny looking.
I wonder if I'd still look Jewish....
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Get your breasts off of my lettuce. When I open my refrigerator and pull out the cool, wet, crinkly packaged of lettuce, all I want to think about is the rapidly impending saladocity that my lips are about to encounter, attractively schmeared with dollops and dabbles of Kraft Spicy Ranch dressing.
Although it may come as a surprise to you, when I am dealing with lettuce, or any leafy green for that matter, I don't want to be thinking about breasts.
Especially ones with cancer in them.
So, seriously: can my lettuce please stop supporting breast cancer survivors and advocating for greater breast cancer awareness?
Andy Boy, can't lettuce just be fucking lettuce?
I understand that when I buy Milkbone products, I might get some sappy-assed ploy for me to donate to the SPCA with a picture of some sloppy-assed bassett hound looking at me with its sad, cracked out eyes. That makes sense. Malignant tits, however, and lettuce do not mix.
And, while you're at it, can you please tell Susan G. komen to keep her tots off my Kitchenaid hand mixer?
And, Andy Boy-- if you've got pals at the Coca Cola Bottling Company, the Red Dress Foundation is getting their boobies all up ons a brotha's Diet Coke. Okay, maybe not their boobies, but their diseased hearts. And a woman's boobie is over her heart, last time I checked.
It's insulting when corporate America pretends to give a shit about women, or children, or Koreans. You motherfuckers just want our money, and that's fine.
Take it. We just want our lettuce.
I feel kind of, I don't know... weird about driving a car when I don't know what its name means.
I mean-- what does "PT" stand for? I guess, because of my car's recent predilection for only starting when the key is pounded into the ignition with the sole of my shoe, and only sometimes, the "PT" could more recently stand for "Part Time."
It's my "Part Time" Cruiser. It only works, you know, sometimes.
P.T. Barnum's "PT" stood for "Phineas Taylor" which I think is way too cool to have abbreviated. If my name were "Phineas" I wouldn't abbreviate it anyway. Well, I might have done it in high school.
In any event, thinking about my car's name got me thinking about other car's names, and how appropriate, or inappropriate they may be. My wife's car, for one, is very aptly named:
The Honda Fit.
It has neat, cute little compartments inside-- an upper and a lower glovebox, for instance, and somwhere or other, every little totschkie and doodad and tampon and nickel fits. The cute, pert size of the car also lends itself well to the name and, every time we back it into a seemingly too-too-tight parking spot, we're always delightedly to gaily exclaim, "It Fits!"
Yup-- hasn't gotten old yet.
Other car names, especially ones named after geographic locales, well, maybe don't quite... fit.
Take, for example, the gorgeous town in Northern France, overlooking the magnificent Strait of Dover:
Gorgeous, isn't it? One day, after proper sedation, I will board an airplane with my wife that will possibly go down somwhere in that lovely water. If not, we may be fortunate enough to spend time on the Cote d'Opale, which offers fantastic views of the White Cliffs of Dover, and, on a cloudless day, an unmatched panorama of the English and French coast. It is truly, I am sure, a sight to behold.
Now, feast your eyes, if you will, on Oldsmobile's tribute to this fabled city, a city that was the inspiration for...
The Oldsmobile Calais Coupe
I mean, are you fucking kidding me? Some asshole at General Motors banged a whore in Calais on the company dime, flew back to Detroit and named THAT after Calais? I'd love to meet that guy and knee him in the nuts. Fortunately, I'm sure he killed himself a long time ago.
Next, we come to that famed playground for the rich and famous, home to royalty and celebrities alike-- a place that is known for high-rollers and jet-setters, the sun-drenched, sophisticated, sumptuous
Can't you just taste the classiness? Doesn't this image just exude everything that is lush and luscious about Monaco? Can't you just picture yourself, on the arm of some attractive, sunglass-wearing, nice-smelling wealthy individual, sipping something delightfully intoxicating whilst strolling down a sun-dappled boulevard pretending to understand French?
You can? I'd love you to tell me all about it-- in English, preferably. And, when you're done, could you then tell me if you think of all of these things when you look at
The Dodge Monaco
No, unless you have a serious emotional disorder, you don't think of any of those things when you look at this car. When you look at this car, you think two things:
1.) When did Rosco P. Coltrane go undercover?
2.) Why don't I read this blog with an air-sickness bag close by?
If you're feeling randy, there's a small island nation near Trinidad and Tobago that you might want to drop in on. It's lush and beautiful-- it's sometimes referred to as "The Spice Isle" for its bounty of cloves, ginger, nutmeg and other delectables. It's as sunwashed and sealoved as you could want. It's
Nice, huh? Want to see how Henry Ford's heirs tipped their proverbial hats to Grenada in the 1970s? Behold:
The Ford Grenada
Of course, it's very possible that Ford's marketing execs didn't see Grenada in its full glory when they popped by for a visit. Maybe they named this vehicle after viewing one of Grenada's notorious hurricanes, which would make more sense given the aesthetics of the car.